1. Identify the behaviors that you think are ethically questionable in the history of Microsoft. Evaluate the ethics of these behaviors.
Pretend to embrace a technology and become the major source for that technology like buy out the competitors. Declare it obsolete because your original way is better.
Wait long enough for a technique or idea to be forgotten by the majority of people or just long enough that the majority of your followers are naive newbies. Bring out the old idea and present it as a new invention. For example, many things in Visual Studio .Net are presented as new ideas even though they have existed in RAD tools like Delphi for over a decade. Why this works? because the majority of new software geeks have no idea what Delphi is and didn’t know that you could do everything exactly the way Microsoft claims you can in their “new” invention.
It is very much clear about incidences that Microsoft has been unethical in its approaches. Rather that applying their own thoughts, most of the products they have released by copying ideas unethically from other competitor’s products. Rather than having the fair competition in the market Gates always tried to monopolize the market. Though all the monopoly has brought him profit but ethically Microsoft didn’t.
2. What characteristics of the market for operating systems do you think created the monopoly market that MIcrosoft’s operating system enjoyed?
Evaluate the market in terms of utilitarianism, rights and justice (your analysis should make use of the textbook’s discussion of the effects of monopoly markets on the utility of participants in the market, on the moral rights of participants in the market, and on the distribution of the benefits and burdens among participants in the market), giving explicit examples from the operating sytems industry to illustrate your points. Some of the characteristics of the market that created monopoly market that Microsoft’s operating system enjoyed are as follows: Incorporation of various Microsoft applications like Windows Digital Media Player and Internet Explorer in 1995 with its operating system gave an advantage to the company as this monopoly worked out for them. Users using Windows didn’t want themselves to get into trouble of purchasing a different browser and different Media Payer. Users were also not ready to pay extra money for buying other companies’ applications, as all those applications were readily available with Microsoft’s operating system.
Every company was releasing their applications and operating systems in the market and every time Microsoft was able to know their programs. Using those programs Microsoft created monopoly in the market by releasing advanced version of competitors’ products. As when Navigator came in 1994, Microsoft launched Internet Explorer which was borrowed from Spyglass Inc. and made it similar to Navigator. It incorporated Internet Explorer with Windows. Media player was also incorporated in Windows. Sun Microsystems’s Java was also licensed to Microsoft first and then Microsoft built its own Microsoft java permitting Windows Users to be compatible with it.In the software industry users did not want to shift to new products or applications until proper training and workshops are organized. Microsoft’s used good strategies for training users. With the Installation disk, a proper tour of Windows is provided to facilitate user.
3. In your view, should the goverment have sued Microsoft for vilolation of the antitrust law? In your view, was judge Jackson’s order that Microsoft be broken into two comanies fair to Microsoft? Was judge Killar-Kotelly’s november 1, 2003 decision fair? Was the April 2004 decision of the Eruopean Comission fair to Microsoft? Explain your answers.
USA Attorney General Janet Reno filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft in the court of Judge Thomas Jackson. Microsoft made the computer companies using Windows as their operating system not to license, distribute or promote competitive software products of other companies. It embedded Internet Explorer with Windows and thus demolished consumer freedom to go for any other Browser plus it also degraded windows performance. In the agreements with computer companies those using Windows, Microsoft wanted them to leave Internet Explorer as the default Web–Browser and didn’t allow installation of any other browser. The judge was having complete authority to take hard actions against Microsoft’s unethical business strategies. As per the case study it is evident that Microsoft has used various unethical business strategies to make their business profitable. Microsoft copied the copyright of Apple’s OS/2 and developed its own operating system on the same line.
Moreover they forced users to use its Internet Explorer and digital media player. They suppressed the platform independent functionality of Sun’s Java by releasing Microsoft’s Java and making it cross platform language. In my view, government should not have sued Microsoft. Consumers were well satisfied by Windows which was evident from the market share of its use. So signing of agreement involves approval of computer companies and Microsoft and if computer companies have signed that agreement that means they weren’t having any problems and neither consumers upon implementing the agreement. So Microsoft just used a marketing strategy over here. Judge Jackson’s order was fair for the competitors as well as for the software industry because Microsoft has really invoked the monopoly situation in the market. It was essential to have fair competition in the market. As an operating system and applications are totally two different aspects and Microsoft should not club these two aspects. This order would have helped competitors and users to choose their favorite applications. From Microsoft’s point of view it was not the fair decision, as they never wish to separate their business into two domains. It was a marketing strategy adopted by Microsoft so that it can withstand with the competition.
According to them it also facilitated consumers for not spending their money in buying other corresponding software and also playing a risk of installing and uninstalling. According to the settlement between Microsoft and DOJ, Microsoft was asked to share its application programming interface with other software rivals and to allow users to hide Internet Explorer icon from the screen. It was asked not to prevent other competitors programs to install on its operating system and not to retaliate against computer makers in releasing their products. This settlement was officially approved by Judge Kollar-Kotelly on November 1, 2003. The decision was really fair for the competitors as well as users. The decision has created free competitive market in the software industry. It allows users to use other available applications and allow them to hide icons which they do not want to use. From competitors point of view market became much more open to release more products with advanced technologies. This move also helped people to think out of Microsoft’s box and helped to showcase their technical skills. As a result various new operating systems with better performance than Windows like Linux, Suse, Knoppix, and Solaris came in market.
4. Who, if anyone is harmed by the kind of market that Microsoft’s operating system has enjoyed? Explain your answer.
What kind of public policies, if any, should we have to deal with industries like the operating system industry. Monopoly of Microsoft’s operating system has harmed everyone from users to computer producers. Due to unavailability of fair market the users were bound to use Microsoft’s operating system and applications. They were unable to hide icons of the Microsoft’s applications from their operating system. From producer’s point of view, they were not free to launch Windows compatible applications due to unavailability of Windows application programming interface in the market. The competition became minimal in the market due to monopoly enjoyed by Microsoft. Due to monopoly in the market one single company Microsoft was holding maximum market share. It hampered the technical advancement and innovation in the market as well. Some of the following public policies could be used to deal with monopoly Government should issue some standards for a given technology/system/product which should be followed by everyone in the industry.
Anti-monopoly law can be created to prevent monopoly to occur in the market.
Some policies can be incorporated in the system to motivate and encourage newly launched companies to increase the innovation in the market.
Some policies should be made to share information among the companies whose applications are inter dependant.